A co-chair of the German Synodal Way’s working group on sexuality said that a majority of the forum’s members had expressed support for blessing same-gender couples, even after the Vatican attempted to ban such blessings.
Birgit Mock of the Central Committee of German Catholics was speaking after receiving a petition by more than 2,600 pastoral workers in the country that objected to the Vatican ban. Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen, as Mock’s co-chair of the Forum on Sexual Morality, which is part of the larger process of dialogue between bishops and the laity in Germany known as the Synodal Way, also received the petition. The petition was begun by two priests after the Vatican ban was announced. Katholisch.de reported further (via Google Translate):
“With regard to the signature campaign, Mock spoke of a very important sign. The majority of the members of the Forum on Sexual Morality wanted to make it possible to officially make blessing celebrations possible for homosexual couples in Germany.
“The fundamental aim is to anchor sexuality as a positive force in the teaching of the church. This should not only extend to the marriage between a man and a woman. ‘Forcing couples in loving relationships who live in fidelity and mutual appreciation to negate their sexuality as a couple does not correspond to our image of man and God,’ emphasized Mock. She described ‘stop signs from Rome’ as unhelpful in this context.
“Bishop Dieser criticized the point in time when the Vatican published the declaration: ‘In the midst of the synodal endeavor, the Roman position has caused irritation and anger.’ He knows about the inner turmoil of many pastors, also in his diocese, between loyalty to the church and the desire to be able to bless gay and lesbian couples.
“At the same time he emphasized that as bishop he was responsible ‘to ensure the unity of all’. He hoped for a further development of church teaching so that blessing celebrations for homosexual couples no longer take place in a gray area in the future.”
The two Forum leaders added, “The dialogue must be continued” because the petition is a” warning and mandate” for the Synodal Way to do so.
Elsewhere in Germany, Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz further criticized the Vatican ban in a statement for the peace group Pax Christi. Kohlgraf said, “When people feel hurt by the church, I can’t just dismiss it as a misunderstanding.” Katholisch.de reported further:
“Many people would experience it as violent to be reduced to their inclination and their way of life. ‘It is no small matter for them if all of this is done with reference to the will of God,’ said Kohlgraf. ‘If ecclesiastical teaching is experienced as “violent”, I, as a bishop, must not remain silent.’ Language habits should also be checked, especially when one becomes more sensitive to the area of spiritual abuse. ‘This shows attitudes that lead us away from the gospel.’ As Pax Christi President in Germany, active peace work and non-violence should not remain lip service for him.”
Finally, in an act of protest, the Federation of German Catholic Youth in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart launched a campaign on social media around #LoveIsNoSin, reported Katholisch.de. Participating in that protest was the Diocese of Limburg, which added a rainbow Facebook filter over its profile photo that used the campaign hashtag. Stephan Schnelle, the diocese’s spokesperson, said the message sent by this was both appropriate and clearly in support of same-gender couples (Limburg’s Bishop Georg Bätzing has previously said he was “not happy” with the Vatican ban).
Thousands of Catholics worldwide are pledging to bless same-gender couples. If you have not already added your name to New Ways Ministry’s pledge, you can do so here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, March 31, 2021
For all the previous posts concerning the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples, click here.
For a listing of Catholic leaders who have spoken positively about same-gender relationships and unions, click here.
For information about a Catholic blessing for a same-gender couple, click here.
For more information on how to be welcoming to married same-gender couples, click here.